In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.…
Two suggestions are made concerning the association of this figure in the mind of Isaiah. Some think he had in view the circumstances of the Assyrian invasion in the time of Hezekiah, and designed to assure the people that, however boastful might be the Assyrian words, and however terrible the appearance of the Assyrian armies, they were safe, because the defense of God was better than the mightiest walls, or the loftiest towers, or the most destructive weapons. In preparation for the-assault of the Assyrians, Hezekiah had done all in his power to fortify and defend Jerusalem; but, in the doing of his best, his trust was still in the Lord his God; and he looked for "walls and bulwarks" in the salvation which God promised him by Isaiah. But others regard this song as prepared beforehand, in anticipation of the deliverance from Babylon, and possession again of the holy city, though then it would be, for many years, a city without walls or bulwarks, and, even from human points of view, altogether dependent on the Divine defense. J.A. Alexander says, "The condition and feelings of the people after their return from exile are expressed by putting an ideal song into their mouths. Though the first clause does not necessarily mean that this should actually be sung, but merely that it might be sung, or that it would be appropriate to the times and feelings of the people, it is not at all improbable that it was actually used for this purpose, which could more readily be done as it is written in the form and manner of the psalms, with which it exhibits many points of resemblance." It would be quite in harmony with other parts of Scripture prophecy to regard Isaiah as having in mind both present and future circumstances; and it is usually safe to recognize an immediate historical reference. The two associations of the song will, therefore, give us our two points for consideration:
1. God's salvation may come in what he does for us, or outside us.
2. God's salvation may come in what he does by us, or within us.
I. GOD MAY DEFEND US BY WHAT HE DOES FOE US. In the case of Hezekiah, Jerusalem was saved by the sudden and overwhelming destruction of Sennacherib's army. In this we may find a type of all the cases in which men have been saved by the Divine mastering of their circumstances. But all these, which may be called "spectacular salvations," have for their chief design to enable us to apprehend those far higher moral and spiritual salvations that are wrought within us. The outward has little interest in itself. Our chief interest in events lies in their illustration, for those who are dependent on the senses, of moral and spiritual processes. The Bible is full of records of God's outward salvations. They begin with the dividing of the Red Sea, when the people were bidden to "stand still, and see the salvation of God." They are dotted all over the story of the wanderings. They appear again and again in the time of the Judges. Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah have such stories of Divine deliverance and protection to repeat; and psalmists of all the ages join the chorus that follows Moses' great song, "The Lord is my Strength, and my Song, and he is become my Salvation." We still may hold fast our confidence that God is working for us in our circumstances, and even by the discomfiting of our foes, and making for us plain paths. The God of providence is in our life; and in his rule of the events of our lives we too can see his salvation. Keen vision of God's working in things, persons, and events outside us we ought ever to cultivate; but the cultivation is a work of exceeding difficulty in this sensuous and scientific age, when man, his skill and his triumphs, are so unduly honored.
II. GOD MAY DEFEND US BY WHAT HE DOES WITHIN US. He may give us a spirit of wisdom and good counsel, so that the action we take shall be prudent; and in this way security and even rescue from peril are oftentimes obtained. In times of anxiety less importance attaches to what our foes do than to what we do; and so God's grace in us, God's salvation of us, is the thing of supreme concern to us. Our salvation comes by this, "He strengtheneth us with strength in our soul." It follows upon the fulfillment of this assurance, "The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way." When the exiles went back to a Jerusalem that was without walls or defenses, God kept them safe by helping them to act prudently, and to avoid giving offence to those around them. Looked at in this light, how full all our lives are of Divine salvations! Every circumstance of difficulty and trial; every time of perplexity, when decisions, on which the most serious consequences depended, had to be made, is seen to be a time, or a circumstance, in which God saved us by giving grace, wisdom, guidance, prudence, or good judgment. Either by help within us or without us, God will surely prove a "strong Salvation" to all who put their trust in him. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.